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Love of religious establishment above truth

One of the saddest and most awful occurrences in human history occurred nearly two thousand years ago when the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was brutally and mercilessly killed by those who professed to be the chosen people of God. Every well-thinking person would do well to seek an explanation for such an awful paradox, lest ignorance and lack of understanding should break down possible safeguards against the repetition of similar anomalies in their own experience.

An explanation of such an awful paradox can be found in the phenomenon of misplaced affection; and specifically, love of religious establishment above love of truth. On the one hand was Jesus Christ who was the embodiment of truth, righteousness, justice, love and mercy. On the other hand, was Caiaphas, the designated spiritual leader of God’s professed people – the chief representative of the religious establishment. In between were the people, many of whom had seen the righteousness, innocence and blameless life of Christ but were also fully persuaded of the legitimacy of the religious institution to which they were committed.

Sometimes we must choose

What an awful choice for one to be called upon to make. Indeed, it would have been preferable if both were on the same side. But unfortunately, as it was then, so it has been on so many other occasions, not excluding the present, that institutionalized religion is not always aligned with truth. Thus, individuals, at times, are faced with a choice. The decision which prevailed on that fateful day, which culminated in the ignominious death of Christ on Calvary’s cross reveals the little appreciated truth that the majority is not always right.

Some persons, to avoid the unpleasant task of making such choices, make an unspoken rule for themselves that the church is always right. Unfortunately for them, their silence or indifference does constitute a choice which, though proven to be right in some instances, is also proven to be wrong in others. In which case, the individual stands either vindicated or condemned before God.

 The lessons

The lessons of Calvary are many. Calvary should impel religious leaders to be humble, recognizing that truth is not always the preserve of the religious elite. Jesus Christ was rejected largely because of his humble earthly beginnings and continuance. He was not educated in the schools of the rabbis. He did not court the favour of the religious establishment or patronize its leaders. The religious leaders felt that their authority was being bypassed and therefore, sought and succeeded, to some measure, in ridding the world of Him whom they considered to be a threat.

The lesson for the people at large who profess a religious faith is that a religious order, culture or establishment stands justified only when it is aligned with truth. Truth stands pre-eminent and is not always enunciated or embraced within the religious establishment to which one is committed. The choice with which one is faced is sometimes unpleasant, but nevertheless, weighted with eternal consequences.

When religious organizations that represent God find themselves embracing error, they should make the necessary adjustments so that they can stand with greater credibility in advancing their mission and avoid leading their members down the slippery slope of rejection of truth, because no one knows how far it will take them or where it will end.

Popular error

One very popular error that is based on assumptions, rather than on any clear biblical foundation is the idea that the “one God” of the Bible is a unity of three persons rather than one Person who is supreme. This concept, called the Trinity is not merely that there is Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  The Bible clearly teaches that.  Rather, the Trinity doctrine asserts that the one God of scripture is made up of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Some people prefer to use the term Godhead, which is mentioned only three times in the Bible and is never used to mean three-in-one.  But they hold to the same concept as is held by those who use the term Trinity.

Standard definitions of Trinity are as follows:

Trinity n Christianity the union of three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in one God” – Collins Student’s Dictionary.

“(the Trinity) (in Christian belief) the three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) that make up God.” – Little Oxford Dictionary.

Trinity noun in Christianity, the union of Father, Son and Holy Ghost in one God.” – Chambers English Dictionary.

Based on these definitions, the “one God” of the Bible is not a Person but a unity of three.  According to that view, when the Bible says that there is one God, the one God is really Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Is this biblical?  And is it important?  Most churches think it is important and hold it as a required belief.  Those who do not hold to that view also consider the matter important because, in their view, the Bible says otherwise.

The Bible says: “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things” (1 Cor. 8:6). And Jesus said the same, in His prayer to the Father: And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)God the Father commanded all to worship Jesus Christ, His only begotten son, in the same way that we worship Him, the Father, but He never told anyone to worship the Holy Spirit.  And worshipping the Holy Spirit is not taught anywhere in the Bible. Are persons, by worshipping and praying to the Holy Spirit, unwittingly breaking the first of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3)?

As we reflect on Calvary and on the fact that the chosen people of God were so misled as to crucify the Son of God, preferring rather that the criminal Barabbas be released instead, we should ask ourselves, do we love truth more than we love our religious traditions and establishments?  Most importantly, we should not be dismissive of questions that are raised regarding the legitimacy of any position that we have taken.  The questions that are raised might just be a wake-up call from God for us to get in line with truth.

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

Father, Son and Holy Spirit – Do They Make a Trinity?

What is at Stake

It is popularly assumed that Father, Son and Holy Ghost make a Trinity; further, that the Trinity concept is difficult to explain but should be accepted by faith. But, does the supposed difficulty in explaining it really expose us to embracing questionable ideas that could be detrimental to accept? First of all, what is the Trinity and why is the question important? Consider this. On the assumption of a Trinity, people worship the Holy Ghost alongside the Father and the Son. Is this a valid position? Could we, unwittingly, be offering worship where it does not belong – making us guilty of idolatry?

This is a critical matter because the very first commandment of the Ten Commandments says: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3). Repeatedly, God has warned against idolatry and has punished individuals and nations for practicing idolatry. God has made it clear that He is the only true God; “there is none else” (Isa. 45:5).

Jesus said the same, as He prayed, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3).

Notwithstanding that, Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, “the express image of His person” (Heb. 1:3) and God, the Father, commands both us and angels to worship His Son (John 5:23; Heb. 1:6).

But there is nowhere in the Bible that says we should worship the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit), neither is it said that we are allowed to do that. People do it on an assumption that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equally God.

What the Trinity Concept is

The Trinity concept is not merely that there is Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  The Bible clearly teaches that.  Rather, the Trinity doctrine asserts that the one God of scripture is made up of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Some people prefer to use the term Godhead, which is mentioned only three times in the Bible and is never used to mean three-in-one.  But in essence, they hold to the same concept as is held by those who use the term Trinity. Standard definitions of Trinity are as follows:

Trinity n Christianity the union of three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in one God” – Collins Student’s Dictionary.

“(the Trinity) (in Christian belief) the three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) that make up God.” – Little Oxford Dictionary.

Trinity noun in Christianity, the union of Father, Son and Holy Ghost in one God.” – Chambers English Dictionary.

Based on these definitions, the idea is that when the Bible says that there is one God, the one God is really Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

So, since we are allowed to worship the Father and the Son, the assumption is that we should then be able to worship the Holy Spirit as well. But is it true that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are co-equal? Does the Bible teach that? And does the Bible teach that the one God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Let us see for ourselves what the Bible actually says.

What the Bible Teaches About God

The truth is that the Bible does not teach that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are co-equal. A few clear references will show this. Jesus said: “my Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28).

He said again, “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” (John 12:49). One might say: Oh, that was in reference to the Son only in His human state. But that is not true. Before the Son came to earth, it is said of Him, that His Father “anointed” Him (Heb. 1:9) and the Father “appointed” Him (Heb. 1:2). Further, the Bible tells us: “And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.” (Heb. 7:7).

It is very obvious. The Father is greater than the Son.

Further, after sin and death are done away with, the Son himself will be subject to the Father – “And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:28).

Therefore, the Father is greater than the Son at all phases: before the Son came to earth, while He was on earth, and after He left the earth, continuing into eternity.

Prophets of the Bible have referred to the Father as “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:3; 2 Cor. 11:31). And God the Father is reported as saying to the Son that “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee” (Heb. 1:9). Jesus, Himself, referred to the Father as “my God” (Rev. 3:12; John 20:17; Matt. 27:46). So, this concept of co-equality is totally unscriptural.

This is not to say that the Son is not to be worshipped. The Father says that we are to worship His Son.  And the Son exercises the authority of His Father.  The relationship is similar to a king and a prince.  God, the Father, is the King of the Universe and Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son is the Prince of the universe.  In another sense, Jesus Christ, as the second Adam, will be King of this particular territory in the universe called earth.  He will be King of kings and Lord of lords over His earthly subjects who will reign with Him as kings and priests (Rev. 5:10).

But as for the Holy Spirit, it is a different matter. While we need the Holy Spirit, nowhere is it ever said that we should worship the Holy Spirit.

Further, Christ the Son, is greater than the Comforter who is the Holy Spirit. Christ said that He would send the Comforter and when the Comforter comes, he would not speak of himself. He will only speak what he hears –“It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7). And “he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak:” (John 16:13).

So, Christ is obviously greater than the Comforter.

Even in the sending of the Comforter, the order of authority is clearly seen. Christ prays to the Father and asks Him to give the Comforter. Then Christ sends the Comforter –“I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter” (John 14:16).

“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26).

The concept of Father, Son and Holy Spirit being co-equal is totally false.

Further, the Bible tells us who the one God is. We are told:

“For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things” (1 Cor. 8:6). The idea that the one God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit is totally unscriptural.

Before concluding, we should consider two passages of scripture that people misconstrue and read into them things that they do not actually say, in order to promote a Trinity concept.  The first is: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19). They say, there you go, an appeal is made to the authority of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, so they must be co-equal.  If that is the case, then what do we say of this one: I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things(1 Tim. 5:21)?  An appeal is made to God, Christ and angels.  So, does that mean angels are co-equal with God and Christ?  Absolutely not!  So, in a similar way, the baptismal commission of Matt. 28:19 does not show that Father, Son and Holy Ghost are co-equal.

The other passage is: For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.(1 John 5:7). Did it say, “these three are one God”? No, it did not!  The verse immediately following it tells what the oneness is that is being referred to.  It is oneness in terms of agreement – And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.(1 John 5:8).  So, neither of these passages support or justify a Trinity concept.

Conclusion

What the facts show is that Father, Son and Holy Spirit do not make a Trinity.

The Bible is clear that there is only one Supreme Being, and that is the Father – “One God and Father of all, who is above all” (Eph. 4:6). When the Bible says that there is one God, it is a reference to the Father and the Father only.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is of the same nature as God and is worshipped just as God the Father is worshipped. But He is, has been and will always be subject to and submissive to His Father. The Holy Spirit, however, is not to be worshipped as God. And one should not try to confuse the issue by saying, Oh, the Bible says that “God is a spirit”, so it’s really God we are worshipping when we worship the Holy Spirit.  “God is a spirit” means that God is a spirit-being.  That’s His nature.  We do not worship God’s nature; we worship God, Himself, as a Person.

This will remain true even into the new earth of which we are told: “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” (Rev. 21:22). May the Lord help us to worship God in spirit and in truth and not to be drawn unwittingly into idolatry, giving worship where it does not belong.

Finally, if an organization that represents God finds itself teaching error, it should make the necessary adjustments in its teachings so that it can stand with greater credibility in carrying out its mission.

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

If you want the Holy Spirit….

Jesus tells us what to do if we want the Holy Spirit – ask the One who sends the Holy Spirit: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).

When Jesus wanted His disciples to have the Holy Spirit, He told them that He would ask the Father on their behalf – “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him” (John 14:16, 17).

The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father – “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26).

The Holy Spirit goes where He is sent and speaks only what He hears – “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13).

In keeping with Jesus’s instruction and with His own example, if we want the Holy Spirit, we should ask the Father for the Holy Spirit.  Further, we should ask in Jesus’s name, since no one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son – “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” (John 16:23).  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).

Many people want the Holy Spirit but seem unable or unwilling to follow Jesus’s simple instruction.  They pray to the Holy Spirit or express their request to the Holy Spirit in song.  They ask the Holy Spirit to come and fill them or fill the room where they are rather than ask the One who sends the Holy Spirit and who’s will the Holy Spirit carries out.  We should not run the risk of God ignoring us or risk other spirits coming in with counterfeit manifestations to deceive people and confirm them in their misplaced adoration.  God bears with us in our ignorance, but commands us to repent.  He will not bear with us forever, if we know better and continue in error.

We should not be like Cain who tried to replace God’s explicit instructions with his own reasoning and expect that God should simply accept any and everything that we choose to offer to God.

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

Private interpretations of Scripture

The Bible warns against private interpretations of Scripture in the following words:

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (2 Pet. 1:20).

This warning is of particular importance today as the word of God has become Satan’s prime target in no less a way than in the days of our first parents, Adam and Eve, when the Serpent asked, “Yea, hath God said…..?” (Gen. 3:1).

Many people might not recognize it, but the Protestant Reformation was not primarily over any specific doctrine as much as it was about the word of God itself, which affects all doctrines.  Forty-three years after his death, John Wycliffe, known as the Morning Star of the Reformation, had his bones dug up from where they were buried and were burnt and the ashes scattered into a nearby river, from whence it was borne out into the ocean.  For what reason?  Rome was so upset that Wycliffe had set in motion a tide that they had long sought to stifle – the word of God being made available to every man in his own language.  Even though the translation was from the edited manuscripts that originated in Alexandria, Egypt, the precursor to the Roman Catholic Latin Vulgate, there was enough exposure to the truth, available from it, that would give the opposers of truth a serious problem.

Tyndale and the KJV

William Tyndale was burnt alive at the stake, for translating the Bible into English,  from the purer text that was handed down from generation to generation, through the church in the wilderness, from Antioch where “the disciples were called Christians first” (Acts 11:26).  Tyndale’s dying words were: “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes”.  God answered Tyndale’s prayer shortly after, by putting it in the heart of the king to lift the ban on the scriptures being made available in the native language of the common people – the same ban that Tyndale had violated that cost him his life.  Tyndale’s version is the precursor to the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible that we have today.

Tyndale had previously expressed his desire to have people understand the scriptures for themselves, in a discussion with a priest, who had expressed the view that the common people were incapable of understanding the scriptures and had to be dependent on the interpretations given to them by the priests.  In response, Tyndale made his famous statement: “If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy who drives a plough to know more of the scriptures than you do.”

Tyndale’s vision was accomplished through the technology of the printing press, which made the Bible available to the world like an unstoppable tide.  Even today the KJV remains a best seller.

However, in more recent years a carefully laid plan to subvert the influence of the scriptures has been gaining ground.  The plan was to gradually replace the purer text that forms the basis for the KJV with the edited texts that Rome uses.  This plan was expressed in the Preface of a Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims translation published in 1816 as follows:

“It is almost three hundred years since James Archbishop of Genoa, is said to have translated the Bible into Italian. More than two hundred years ago, in the days of Charles V the French king, was it put forth faithfully in French, the sooner to shake out of the deceived people’s hands, the false heretical translations of a sect called Waldenses.”  – Preface, Douay-Rheims translation of the Bible, 1816.

The Waldenses were among the persecuted people of God who preserved God’s word, which we now have as the KJV.  While, many Protestants today, treat the KJV as just another version only less modern than the others, Rome is not of that view.  They know the difference and consider it important.

The plan would accomplish three things, among others, in one blow: 1. There would be conflicting translations of the text, that would lead people to question the veracity of all the texts; 2. People would be less inclined to memorize the text because of the many renderings of the same verse; 3. People would make there own private interpretations, being facilitated by the different translations, thus, leading people back to a reliance on the interpretations of priests and theologians, in their search for certainty.

Private interpretations

Private interpretations of scripture come in various guises.  Today, it has become fashionable to hear preachers say, “I like how this translation puts it….”  So, they can choose what they want to hear the scriptures say, just by using the translation of their choice.  There is no set way anymore.

Another popular strategy is to take the historical accounts of scripture as allegories – you choose what message you want the story to tell, rather than take the account primarily as fact.  So, for example, when the Apostle Paul was in a ship that seemed about to run aground during a storm, and Paul said: “Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.” (Acts 27:31), the ship supposedly means the church; hence, regardless of what happens, the message is “stay in the church”.  That message may be fine, and it may be possible to use other means to establish that in some way, but the truth is that the story had nothing to do with the church but rather, it was an account of an experience that Paul had.  Of course, the ship ended up being wrecked and everyone had to abandon it, but usually, the analogy is not taken that far.  It is more accurate to say, based on numerous scriptures, that we should abide in the truth.  It is only the truth that will stand the test of time.  And it is the truth that will keep the church faithful to its mission.

Don’t be deceived

In the last days, it will be critical that we commit the scriptures to memory and remain with the purer text that was preserved by those who were willing to give their lives to preserve it.  Jesus warned, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” (Matt. 24:4).  He went on to say: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matt. 24:24).  Jesus overcame the Devil’s temptations in the wilderness by repeatedly appealing to the word of God, saying each time, “It is written…”  But if there is uncertainty as to what is written, or we do not have it etched in our memory, how will we be able to use the scriptures as a sword to cut through errors and temptation when we most need it?  Don’t forget, Satan was quoting scriptures too.  But he was misrepresenting God’s word, primarily by quoting only a snippet of it and leaving out the rest of what was said or changing the context in which it was said.

It is interesting that even in the greatest uncertainty, God always makes an easy way.  Amid the flood of various translations and uncertainty as to text renderings, the KJV is not easily mistaken for another version.  The very things that people claim make it archaic, the Thee, thou, thine and ye, are the very things that make it hard to miss it.  So, we need not be confused to mix up the translations that came from edited manuscripts with those that were faithfully preserved by God’s persecuted people.  As the famous preacher, Charles Spurgeon said: “Discernment is not a matter of telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.”.

At this time, as we approach the final test, when the shaking will take place and only those who cannot be shaken will be left standing, it is imperative that we hold on to the word of God so that we might be sealed, as we are told:

“Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads – it is not a seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved – just as soon as God’s people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come.” (Ellen G. White, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 1161).

 “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

What is so Important About a Day?

It is sometimes queried of Sabbath-keepers: “Is the day you worship so important? Isn’t it a clean and holy life that really matters? Don’t you believe that it is those who have clean hands and a pure heart who will see God, whether they worship on Sunday or Saturday?” These are questions which many people ask, and which deserve answers. Accordingly, this presentation seeks to address these questions. It is hoped that sincere persons will look carefully into the answers that are now given and will find them beneficial in their quest for truth.

Keeping A Day Holy

The first thing, it is not an issue of the day you worship. Christians ought to worship God every day, whether by themselves or in company. It is a question of which day you keep holy. Man cannot make a day holy, only God can make a day holy; and a day cannot be kept holy if that day is not already made holy by God. God commands us, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…. the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God” (Exodus 20:8-11). Thus, God tells us to keep one day holy and tells us which day He wants us to keep holy.

Keeping the day holy involves not only worshipping God but abstaining from doing our own work (Exodus 20:8-11) and finding our own pleasure (Isa. 58:13) on that day. It involves devoting the day to communing with God. It does not mean that the Sabbath is a day of fasting or that one should not respond to emergencies, especially where life is threatened, on that day.  Jesus kept the Sabbath and yet He asked the Pharisees, “Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?” (Luke 14:5).  But one should neither plan nor carry out normal business on the Sabbath that could be arranged for another day.

In order to minimize distractions which might interrupt our communion with God during this special time that God has set apart for this purpose, God has designated the sixth day (the day before the Sabbath) as the preparation day (Ex. 16:22-30; Luke 23:54; Mark 15:42).  The Sabbath is observed from sunset on the sixth day to sunset on the seventh day“from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.” (Lev. 23:32).

For All time

Spending this special time with God was not just an Old Testament thing or a Jewish thing, it was intended for all time. This is clearly indicated by the command that Jesus gave to His followers concerning the destruction of Jerusalem that He was prophesying would take place. He told them that when they saw a certain sign, they were to flee into the mountains in order to escape the destruction (Matt. 24:15-18). However, he went on to say: “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day” (Matt. 24:20). The destruction took place in AD 70, almost 40 years after the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Christ, and yet the followers of Christ were to pray that they would not need to flee on the Sabbath.

Clearly, Jesus could not have given such instructions if the Sabbath was not supposed to be still important at that time.

It is evident also, that Jesus’s warning was intended for all His followers and not only for the Jews, as there were Christians in Jerusalem and not only Jews.

While the LORD expects us to worship Him every day, He does not expect us to keep every day holy. He has given us six days for legitimate toil and labour and has requested one day only to be set apart for holy use (Ex. 20:9,10). It is not any day that we choose that God will accept. This is clearly seen in the experience of the children of Israel when God fed them with manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16:22-30).

God provided manna from heaven for them six days every week for forty years. On the sixth day a double portion was provided, some of which was to be kept over until the following day which was the Sabbath, since none was provided on the seventh day Sabbath. Hence, on the seventh day Sabbath, a specific day every week, a day that God Himself had determined independent of their thoughts or wishes, no manna fell from heaven. Some persons decided to do their own thing, ignoring the specific day that God had chosen and went out looking for manna on that day. God was very displeased with them and asked, “How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?” (Ex. 16:27, 28).

A Clean and Holy Life

The question is asked; “Isn’t it a clean and holy life that really matters?” The answer is yes. But what is a clean and holy life? Is refusing to keep God’s commandments and His laws a manifestation of a holy life? The Word of God says no. Jesus tells us what righteousness is: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang (hinge) all the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40). Also, Jesus tells us how we may know whether we truly love God: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15), and “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me” (John 14:21).

Let us not, like some of the children of Israel in the wilderness, seek to do our own thing. If we set aside the specific day that God has set apart to be kept holy and, in its place, set up our own, God will be just as displeased with us as He was with them. We can be sure which day God has set apart to be kept holy because God has preserved the Jewish people with the tradition of Sabbath-keeping from the days in the wilderness, when God Himself showed them which day was the Sabbath, until the present day, so that nobody should be in doubt as to the matter of which day.

Reason for the Sabbath

Perhaps we might have a better appreciation for the Sabbath if we understand the reason for it and how it came about. Exodus 31:17 gives us an idea. It says: “for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” You may ask, how can God rest and be refreshed when He neither slumbers nor sleeps? To understand this, one has to go back in thought to the creation week. Man was created on the sixth day. The seventh day was the very first day after man was brought into existence and Jesus tells us that “The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27). On this very first day of man’s life God ended His work and spent the day in fellowship with Adam and Eve, this lovely pair, just created, beautiful and pleasant to interact with. This was the refreshing experience that God had on that very first Sabbath.

God had a wonderful experience and He blessed the day and sanctified it (Gen. 2:3). To sanctify means to set apart and make holy. This shows that God wants to repeat this experience with His children every week. Notice that this day is special because of the special experience that God had on that first Sabbath day, on account of which He highly esteems that day. But the setting apart of the day becomes meaningful for us, only if we make ourselves available for that special interaction with God. It is a great disappointment to God and a great loss to ourselves when God makes Himself available for special interaction with us and we are too busy tending to all manner of other interests at that particular time.

It is perhaps similar to a case where a man (God) is greatly in love with a woman (us) and makes a special date with her to spend pleasant and quality time with her only to find, when he arrives, that she did not consider it important, did not get herself ready but instead made herself busy with other things and just tells him that she has no time for him now. Perhaps he would not be wrong to conclude that she doesn’t really love him. One might say that God is not like that, He is available all the time. Yes, He is available all the time, but He makes Himself available in a special way on the Sabbath, which is not the case on other days. An example of God turning his attention to His children in a special way at a particular time is seen in the experience of Adam and Eve.

Special Interaction

After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, the biblical account says: “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (Gen. 3:8,9). From this it is seen that although God is every-where in Spirit and knows everything without having to ask, yet He came in a special way to meet with Adam and Eve. Why should we think that God does not come to meet with us in a special way also, even although He tells us to use the sixth day specifically for the purpose of preparation?

One might ask whether it is not clean hands and a pure heart that is required of us rather than giving attention to a special day. The real question is this: How are we going to develop clean hands and a pure heart without close fellowship and communion with God? And how do we expect to have close fellowship and communion with God if we do not avail ourselves of the opportunity at the particular time that God sets apart for special fellowship and communion with Him? This is not to say that we cannot interact with God at other times, but He has sanctified the Sabbath, which means that this time is set apart for special interaction with Him, just like He had it with our first parents on that first Sabbath day.

This is the reason the Bible says: “Hallow (reverence; keep holy) my Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God” (Ezekiel 20:20). It says as well, “Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.” (Ezekiel 20:12). To sanctify means to make holy. Hence, keeping the Sabbath holy has an integral function in the process by which holiness is accomplished in one’s life.

Dear reader, I hope you will consider prayerfully all that has been said here and will be drawn into a meaningful fellowship with God in spirit and in truth. As with your tithe, in which you give a tenth of your increase, to signal that you have acknowledged God as having first call on your material resources, so with the Sabbath, you signal that God has first call on your time.  May God richly bless you to this end.

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E-mail: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Satan Targets the Bible

From before sin even entered this world, Satan has sought to target God’s word. Quoting scripture as a means of deceiving people is not a new strategy of Satan.  He did it with Jesus Christ, while tempting Him in the wilderness, and even before that, sought to quote God’s word in order to tempt Eve – “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Gen. 3:1).  Satan’s strategy is not to present God’s word for instruction or guidance, but rather to change the meaning of it or cast doubt as to its authenticity. Our only safety is in embracing the unadulterated word of God, as Jesus did.  In response to the Devil’s temptations, Jesus’s response was always to refer to God’s word: “It is written . . .” (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10).  This article exposes a plot to neutralize the Bible and explains why Satan’s target is particularly, the King James Version of the Bible.

Manly Palmer Hall, a Canadian-born author, lecturer, astrologer and mystic, best known for his 1928 work The Secret Teachings of All Ages: An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy (1928), wrote:

“To make things right we will have to undo much that is cherished error. The problem of revising the Bible shows how difficult it is to do this. For the last hundred years we have been trying to get out an edition of the Bible that is reasonably correct; but nobody wants it. What’s wanted is the good old King James version, every jot and tittle of it” Manly P. Hall, “Asia in the balance of the scales”, Horizon. The magazine of useful and intelligent living. Articles by Manly Palmer Hall Philosopher. Vol. 4,  No. 1, (Spring 1944).

The “last hundred years” from the date of publication of Hall’s article would have been 1844. It is interesting that around that time there were reported activities by the Jesuits, a Roman Catholic order that was created to fight the Protestant Reformation, to pursue an objective to take control of the Bible. The Jesuits were reported as saying:

“Then the Bible, that serpent which, with head erect and eyes flashing fire, threatens us with its venom whilst it trails along the ground, shall be changed again into a rod as soon as we are able to seize it; and what wounds will we not inflict with it upon these hardened Pharaohs and their cunning magicians! what miracles will we not work by its means! Oh , then, mysterious rod! we will not again suffer thee to escape from our hands, and fall to the earth! For you know but too well that, for three centuries past, this cruel asp has left us no repose; you well know with what folds it entwines us, and with what fangs it gnaws us!”The Jesuit conspiracy. The secret plan of the order. Detected and revealed by The Abbate Leone. With a preface by M. Victor Considerant, member of the National Assembly of France, and of the Municipal Council of the Seine, Page 98 (1848).

The book speaks of a Jesuit meeting held in 1825 in Chieri, Italy.

18 years after the meeting, Constantine von Tischendorf went for a prolonged meeting with the Pope. One year later, (1844) he claimed to have found a Bible manuscript called the Codex Sinaiticus in St. Catherine’s Monastery. He presented it to Pope Pius IX who praised it. This manuscript along with the Codex Vaticanus found in the Vatican Library forms the basis of most modern translations of the Bible.

 

Two streams of manuscripts

Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus and other manuscripts of similar reading, which account for less than 50 out of over 5000 know Bible manuscripts, can be traced back to a stream of manuscripts emanating from Alexandria, Egypt, where critics edited Bible manuscripts.

In contrast, the Textus Receptus (Received Text), which accounts for more than 5000 known manuscripts, can be traced back to a stream of manuscripts emanating from Antioch, Syria, where the disciples were first called Christians (Acts 11:26), and where the Apostle Paul was based.  These have come down through the persecuted church in the wilderness to the Protestant Reformers and through the Reformers to us, in English, as the King James Version (KJV). It was not translated by King James personally, but was done under his authority by a team of 47 (initially, 54) of the best scholars of the day, many of whom were fluent in the original Biblical languages, drawn from Oxford, Cambridge and other institutions of eminent scholarship, thus acquiring the designation also, as the Authorized Version.

Footnotes in the New King James Version (NKJV), which is not the same as the KJV, provide a list of numerous verses that are missing from most modern translations and verses that have been altered, compared to the King James Version.

The NKJV was described by the publishers as a transition Bible for those who are seeking to move from the KJV to a more modern version. Copyright for the NKJV is owned by Thomas Nelson which has now been acquired by HarperCollins Publishers who are also the publishers of The Satanic Bible. Copyright owners have rights to revise the text at any time and have so far published several revisions of the NKJV.

The changes are not inconsequential. Consider, for example, Matt. 5:22. Three words are missing from the NIV compared to the KJV, which makes Jesus “subject to judgment”, based on the NIV. The KJV says “whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment”. The NIV omits “without a cause”, saying “anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment“. Jesus got angry and chased the money changers out of the temple for a cause and was therefore justified. But the NIV would make Him “subject to judgment” for doing that. The NIV makes no mention of Lucifer but refers to the one who fell from heaven as the “morning star” (Isa. 14:12), a title that is used elsewhere in the same version to refer to Jesus (Rev. 22:16), making Jesus the one who fell from heaven.

The King James Version of the Bible (KJV) is the crowning achievement of the Protestant Reformation, reflecting the collective effort of many reformers such as William Tyndale who was burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English.

The KJV has no copyright owner as it is in the public domain and is not subject to revision. Many persons who have memorized scripture over many years are now being forced to unlearn that which was etched in their memory, by the constant use of modern versions in their churches.

The Bible prophesies that the time will come when the word of God will become scarce – “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11, 12).

Now is the time to memorize the scriptures rather than shift to versions of the Bible that are constantly changing and subject to corporate ownership.  God’s warning is clear, that we should not add to God’s word nor take away from it – “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Prov. 30:6); “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city” (Rev. 22:19).

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

 

Rebuilding the Temple – Prophets, Priests and Rulers

The rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem by those who returned from exile in Babylon was accomplished through the cooperation of prophets, priests and rulers.  The temple was started and finished under the leadership of Zerubbabel, who led the first group of exiles who returned from Babylon to Jerusalem based on the decree of Cyrus, supported by Joshua the High Priest, under the instructions of God through the Prophets Haggai and Zechariah.  After the temple was finished, other servants of God such as Ezra and Nehemiah built the city and erected its walls.

Haggai the Prophet

The word of the Lord through Haggai the prophet:

“In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built. Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways…Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the Lord…Then spake Haggai the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the Lord. And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.” (Haggai 1:1-15)

Zechariah the Prophet

The word of the Lord through Zechariah the prophet:

“And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.  And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by. And the angel of the Lord protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.” (Zech. 3:1-7).

“This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you.” (Zech. 4:6-9).

The Spiritual Temple of the Last Days

In our day, there is a temple to be re-built and there is a New Jerusalem that we will live in that will have walls of Jasper – “After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.” (Acts 15:16, 17); “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:5); “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Rev. 21:2); “And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.” (Rev. 21:18).

Jesus Christ has gone back to heaven and is preparing the city.  But the temple, we must play our part in building – “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3); “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth…And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.” (Rev. 11:1-7).

Sealed for the Final Conflict

When the temple is finished, there will be a hundred forty and four thousand sealed – “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” (Rev. 7:1-4).

Those who are sealed will have to contend with the Beast and his Image but they will overcome and be delivered – “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is…And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” (Rev. 17:8-14).

Prophetic Message to Priests, Rulers and People

Prophets, Priests and Rulers all have a part to play.  But we must get it in order – Prophets first, then Priests and Rulers.  The Prophet is the one who receives messages from God and passes it on to the Priests and Rulers who govern the people.  Unfortunately, the Prophet is not always popular with the Priests and Rulers and people often regard the word of the Priests and Rulers more than they do the Prophets.  But God’s word is: “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” (2 Chron. 20:20).

God promised to raise up a Prophet like Moses, but when He came, the Priests and officers stirred up the people and together they pressured the Rulers to kill Him – “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” (Deut. 18:18); “Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.” (John 19:4-6).

The witnesses of the last days will likewise be killed and, like their Master before them, will rise again after three days – “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.” (Rev. 11:7-14).

Interesting times are ahead – “Solemn events before us are yet to transpire.  Trumpet after trumpet is to be sounded, vial after vial poured out one after another upon the inhabitants of the earth.  Scenes of stupendous interest are right upon us.” (Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, p. 982.)

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

Creeds and Rituals – Does Truth Matter?

An experience recently has led me to ask, “Does truth matter?”. The question seems almost redundant since there is hardly anyone who would deny that truth matters; but claiming to believe something and believing it are two different things.  One of the greatest evidences that truth matters to someone is that person’s willingness to act on it.  My recent experience has led me to think that one of the reasons people do not seem to act on truth is that it is easier to simply follow creeds and rituals, norms and customs.  It is not so much that they do not care about truth or that they are unable to discern between truth and error.  They just don’t think about it.  It is easier to just drift along with the tide.  In church settings, creeds and rituals help to foster that attitude of just going along without giving serious thought, because after all, those matters have been thought out by others already. Right?  Is that a good enough basis to just go along?  Let’s see.

Here is my experience: I was at an Anglican church at an anniversary church service to commemorate the founding of an institution.  The service included a communion ritual. The Leader read certain words and the Congregants were expected to respond by reading the words projected on a screen.  To my surprise, the Congregants read without hesitation words indicating that the bread and wine were transformed into the literal body and blood of Christ.  It seemed like a Roman Catholic Mass rather than a Protestant Communion.

Transubstantiation and Mysticism

The shock came from my recollection that one of the main issues that ignited John Wycliffe, who is considered the Morning Star of the Reformation, in his opposition to the Church of Rome, was the issue of transubstantiation.  One of the significant differences between the Roman Catholic Mass and the Protestant Communion was that the Catholics believed in transubstantiation, whereas the Protestants didn’t.  Transubstantiation is the belief that the priests can convert the bread and wine to the literal body and blood of Christ by the pronouncements that they make over those substances.  The Protestant belief, originally embraced by Anglicans, was that the bread and wine are only symbols of the body and blood of Christ; they do not become the literal body and blood of Christ.  But here, in a supposedly Protestant church, the Roman Catholic belief was being recited effortlessly.  What was the reason?  The Roman Catholic belief had been incorporated into a Creed and a Ritual.

The case of the bread and wine being transformed into the literal body and blood of Christ illustrates the nature of mysticism.  Mysticism takes us away from the realm of reality because it is incompatible with the literal reality that we know.  To our real senses, the bread remains bread and the wine remains wine.  No chemical test will show any difference before and after the priest makes pronouncements over them.  Yet mysticism says a literal transformation would have taken place.  It defies logic and common sense.  But persons are told, never mind, it’s a mystery.  You’ll never be able to understand it from a literal point of view.   Creeds and rituals pave the way for mysticism; and mysticism destroys faith that is based on reality.

Mystical Beliefs Rejected

Today, the lure of mysticism has led many to lose faith in the reality of many aspects of Christian faith.  The prophet to the remnant church wrote in 1904 that for 50 years every effort was being made to overthrow the faith that was delivered to the movement that God raised up in 1844 – “For the past 50 years every phase of heresy has been brought to bear upon us… Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayer, study, and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord.” (Ellen G. White, Special Testimonies, Series B #2, p. 59).  Among the mystical beliefs that were rejected by the early pioneers of the remnant church was transubstantiation; and thankfully, the Movement still rejects it as unscriptural.  But there are other mystical beliefs that are constantly being urged upon the faithful from Roman Catholicism and apostate Protestantism.  Among them are the following:

  1. The Trinity, which makes God’s love in giving His only begotten Son senseless.  If God is three in one – a unity of three coequals in age and power, then one could never be the son of any of the others, except in a sense of role-play or make-believe.  The extent of God’s love is manifested in the fact that He gave His only begotten Son – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16); “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32); “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9).
  2. The death of Christ as an atonement, which makes Christ’s intercession senseless.  It is Christ, in His capacity as our High Priest, who intercedes or makes atonement based on the merits or arguments that the sacrifice provides.  The sacrifice itself is not the atonement – “And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty; Or if his sin, which he hath sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering…And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay the sin offering…and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.” (Lev. 4:27-31).  But if the sacrifice itself is the atonement, then there is no need for a priest.  It was part of the doing of the Little Horn power to remove Christ’s mediation in the heavenly sanctuary on our behalf from the minds of people and cast it to the ground – “Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily [sacrifice] was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down.” (Dan. 8:11). [Note: the word “sacrifice” was supplied by the translators – “ministration” is more appropriate, since Christ was offered only once (Heb. 9:28) – there is no “daily sacrifice” of Christ except in the Roman Catholic mass, which is counterfeit.]
  3. The righteousness of Christ as a gift that someone simply receives, which makes repentance senseless.  Righteousness is a state of character that is formed based on what one believes.  One can be declared righteous based on what one believes, since one’s belief is an indication of the state of one’s heart and mind, which determines one’s actions and motives.  If you have the righteousness of Christ, it means you are righteous as Christ is, and no action of yours can be regarded as sinful unless Christ is sinful; so, the need to repent does not arise, since Christ is sinless.  But the truth is that righteousness is based on believing Christ, which leads us to repent of our sins and practice righteousness.  It is not something that someone can just give to you and you have it – “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” (1 John 3:7); “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” (1 John 3:10); “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11, 12); “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1); “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” (Acts 8:22); “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30).
  4. Someone living inside of you, which makes the idea of personal accountability senseless.  Christ dwelling in you, as opposed to sin dwelling in you, is easily understood as a reference to the mind and character that you have, whether it is Christlike or sinful.  But to treat Christ as being inside of us personally makes Him the driver who is responsible for what we do, sin and all.  Christ does not take charge of people’s lives and then hold them accountable for what is done in their lives.  Everyone must give account of himself before God for all actions that are done in his body as those actions are his, and not someone else’s acting through him – “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matt. 12:36); “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Rom. 14:12); “Who will render to every man according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6); “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” (Matt. 16:27); “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5).

Bible Foundation of Faith

We are reminded that the faith of the pioneers was firmly laid – “Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid. My husband, Elder Joseph Bates, Father Pierce, Elder Hiram Edson, and others who were keen, noble, and true, were among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844, searched for the truth as for hidden treasure… When they came to the point in their study where they said, ‘We can do nothing more,’ the Spirit of the Lord would come upon me, I would be taken off in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as to how we were to labor and teach effectively. Thus light was given that helped us to understand the scriptures in regard to Christ, His mission, and His priesthood. A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God, was made plain to me, and I gave to others the instruction that the Lord had given me.” (Ellen G. White, Selected Messages Vol. 1, p. 206.)

So, does truth matter? Do we simply go to church and repeat creeds and rituals without thinking about the sense of what we are saying or doing?  In order to maintain a form of faith, many find it easier to do that.  Otherwise, they will give up faith that seems to make no sense.  Can one keep faith and still make sense?  If it is a faith that is based on mysticism, the answer is no.  But a faith that is based on reality will make sense.  Biblical faith is based on reality and does make sense.  If our faith is going to be strong enough to stand in the last days, we must give up mysticism and be real.

For the early pioneers, the Bible was their only creed.  They recognized the need to study the scriptures for themselves and seek to understand.  The disappointment of 1844 was still fresh in their minds and so they were mindful of their fallibility.  The disappointment might have been a blessing, because they recognized that popular opinion was not always right – it had led to their disappointment, thinking, like others that the earth was the sanctuary; only to realize after the disappointment that the Bible taught no such thing.  They recognized that the moment they set up a creed, there would be a tendency for blind submission without intelligent thought and understanding.  So, they avoided it.

Once creeds and rituals are established, they tend to perpetuate themselves.  Institutions that operate based on creeds and rituals are often impervious to change.  One may well ask, what if the Church of Rome had taken stock of itself, when John Wycliffe challenged the doctrine of transubstantiation or Martin Luther questioned the sale of Indulgences, and had simply discontinued those beliefs and practices?  Would there have been a need for open protest?  Perhaps not.  Instead, they condemned the messengers.  The result was that Wycliffe, Luther and others were forced to break away.  Quite differently, when Rachel Oakes Preston challenged the Adventists about their keeping Sunday rather than the Seventh day Sabbath, Frederick Wheeler, then William Farnsworth and others such as Joseph Bates accepted the Sabbath truth and the Adventists became sabbath-keepers.  What was different?  One body had relied on creeds and tradition while the other, fresh from a major disappointment, knew that their only safeguard was in studying the scriptures.   May the commitment and the example of the pioneers in maintaining the scriptures as their creed still inspire the modern movement.

Today, we have statements of belief.  We do not call them creeds; but do we just drift along with them with the view that they have all been worked out already?  And are we mindful when subtle changes are made to them?  One remembers when the introit for worship was followed by the song “Bless the Lord, Oh my Soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name” until someone came and said, let’s use instead, the invocation, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost”, then gradually it shifted to an invocation to the Holy Spirit.  Has anyone asked whether those invocations are scriptural? Or do people just drift along?

We have been admonished that we should be able to give a reason at all times to anyone who asks about the faith we hold – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15).  In order to stand in the last days we must be sealed – “Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads – it is not a seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved – just as soon as God’s people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come.” (Ellen G. White, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 1161).

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

Unity upon a false premise

In unity, there is strength.  However, the only unity that will last is that which is built on the truth.  From the moment Lucifer rebelled against God in heaven, there has been a constant conflict between truth and error.  The conflict was spread to this earth when Lucifer who, by then, had become Satan – the Devil – led Eve to doubt God’s word and through Eve led Adam to disobey God’s explicit instruction.  The conflict continues today and will ultimately give rise to a grand unity of Satan, “the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies”, who will be gathered together to make war against Christ and His people (Rev. 19:19; see also Rev. 16:13, 14).  The entire world will turn against the true followers of Christ, as Christ said to His disciples, “ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” (Matt. 24:9).  But Christ will return and destroy the world confederation and deliver His people (Rev. 19:11-21).  Our only safeguard is to know the truth and follow it.

 

The Basis of the WCC

The following is taken from the official website of the World council of Churches:

“The WCC’s 1948 inaugural assembly declared: “The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which accept our Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour”. Soon this formulation gave rise to questions, and requests for a clearer definition of the Christ-centredness of the churches’ common calling, a more explicit expression of the Trinitarian faith and a specific reference to the holy scriptures. The result was the re-formulation, adopted by the Third Assembly (New Delhi 1961), which still stands:

“a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures, and therefore seek to fulfill together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.””

(https://www.oikoumene.org/en/about-us/self-understanding-vision/basis” retrieved July 21, 2019 – the official website of the World Council of Churches).

 

The Episcopal Church

The following is taken from the official website of the Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers:

“The Episcopal Church is one of the 147 founding churches of the World Council of Churches (1948).  The WCC has roots that reach back to the beginning of the modern ecumenical movement and to the conviction, which took hold at several places during the late nineteenth century, that something must be done to heal the divisions which have hampered witness to the Christian faith.

Today there are 349 member churches.  They live in very different political, economic, and social conditions.  Many of them – Anglican, Orthodox, Baptist, Reformed, Lutheran, Methodist, Pentecostal, Old Catholic, etc. – have a long history.  But member churches also include “younger” Pentecostal bodies, independent churches in Africa, and united churches.  The Roman Catholic Church is not a member but it cooperates with the WCC through a Joint Working Group, several programs, and membership in the Commission on Faith and Order, and has delegated observers at major meetings.

Membership is open to any church which is able to accept the WCC “Basis”, provided its signs of ecclesial character meet standards acceptable to two-thirds of the churches already in membership.  The “Basis” declares:  “The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfill together their common calling to the glory of the one God- Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.”

(https://www.edeio.org/world-council-of-churches-wcc.html, retrieved July 21, 2019 – the official website of the Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers (EDEIO) website).

 

Seventh-day Adventist Church

The following is taken from the official website of the world Council of Churches:

“The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a denomination of conservative evangelical Christians. The church arose out of the eschatological expectations of the middle nineteenth century (epitomized by the Millerite Movement), but was only formally organized in 1863. The Millerites had set October 22, 1844, for the return of Christ. With the failure of this date, the movement fell into disarray. One of the small Adventist groups adopted the Seventh-day Sabbath, reinterpreted the events of 1844, and became, in due course, the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The roots of Adventism, however, go back much further – to the Reformation and the church of the New Testament.

Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible as the inspired word of God. In essence, the Bible is their only creed, though they do have a statement of 28 Fundamental Beliefs, which is subject to revision at any General Conference World Session, as new light is received or better language is found, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. These beliefs include the Trinity, believers’ baptism, spiritual gifts, death as an unconscious state until the resurrection, and the New Earth as the home of the redeemed after the millennium. SDAs are creationists and believe that man and woman were made in the image of God as the crowning work of the Biblical creation week. With the entry of sin, God’s plan of salvation was put into effect. In Christ’s life of perfect obedience to God’s will, his suffering, death and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that those who by faith accept the gift of salvation may have eternal life. Since the very beginning, Seventh-day Adventists have been consistent advocates of religious freedom for all, and have taken a lead in its international promotion, including at the UN.

Global mission and evangelism are essential elements of the SDA ethos. The church is intent on sharing the good news of justification, righteousness by faith, salvation through Jesus Christ, and his imminent return. As a result, the SDA Church is probably the most widespread Protestant denomination, with work in over 200 countries. Though cradled in North America, less than 8 percent of her membership today resides there, and there is considerable growth in various parts of the world. Adventists wish to live lives of service to God and humankind. To help achieve this goal the church owns and operates many institutions: over 6,000 schools (from kindergarten to university), 720 hospitals and health-care facilities, publishing houses, and health food factories. Media centres (worldwide satellite TV and radio) have been established in recent decades. Adventists believe in a healthy lifestyle, which includes a good diet (many Adventists are vegetarians) and abstention from harmful drugs, including alcohol and tobacco products. Adventists also promote public health. The church operates the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), which is well-known internationally for its work on behalf of disaster victims and third world development projects.

The SDA church sees herself not as a federation of local or national churches, but as one world church. There is an effective form of representative government. The church’s polity provides for four key organizational levels: 1) the local church, a united body of individual believers, 2) the Conference, a united body of local churches, 3) the Union Conference, the united body of several conferences (a larger territory, often a nation), 4) the General Conference, the worldwide body whose constituent units are the approximately 100 Unions. The General Conference operates through its 13 Divisions (branch offices).

Seventh-day Adventists “recognize those agencies that lift up Christ before men as a part of the divine plan for the evangelization of the world” (General Conference Working Policy, 075). They enter into fellowship with other Christians and practice open communion. They believe that in a certain sense they are a prophetic movement with a time of the end message centering on the “eternal gospel” to give to the world. While they welcome opportunities to dialogue and reach better understanding, they have not formally joined the organized ecumenical movement by becoming members of councils of churches. They do, however, in many cases have observer, consultant, or advisor status. Adventists wish to preserve and protect their unique identity and give life to their God-given evangelistic and service mission.

The office of the general conference is located in Silver Spring, USA. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is comprised of 14 million baptized believers, representing with children a fellowship of some 25 million Adventists.

 

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is not a member of the World Council of Churches.

Websites

(https://www.oikoumene.org/en/church-families/seventh-day-adventist-church, retrieved July 21, 2019 – the official website of the World Council of Churches).

 

The Catholic church

The following is taken from the official website of the World Council of Churches:

“Catholics believe that the church was founded by Jesus Christ as part of the Father’s plan for the salvation of the world. Christ’s proclamation and inauguration of the kingdom of God led to the gathering of disciples. His death, resurrection and sending of the Holy Spirit definitively established the church, with which he promised to remain until the end of time (cf. Matt. 28:20). Jesus entrusted to this community the mission of preaching the gospel and of “making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).

Because the church is, in God’s hands, a means of bringing about the communion of all those who, with the help of God’s grace, would accept the proclamation of the good news, the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) taught that “the Church is in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race”. (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, paragraph 1). This constitution goes on to affirm that the whole community has an active role to play in proclaiming and handing on God’s word, in worshipping and celebrating the sacraments and in serving the mission Jesus entrusted to it……

According to the Vatican’s Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae of 2005, the Catholic Church numbered 1,085,557,000 persons, or 17.2 percent of the world’s population. Of these, 13.2 percent of Catholics live in Africa, 49.8 percent in North and South America; 10.5 percent in Asia, 25.7 percent in Europe and 0.8 percent in Oceania.

 

The Catholic Church has never been a member of the World Council of Churches, but is actively participating in the ecumenical movement in different ways. Learn more

Websites

(https://www.oikoumene.org/en/church-families/the-catholic-church, retrieved July21, 2019 – the official website of the World Council of Churches).

 

The Edict of Thessalonica which defines who is a Catholic Christian

The following is taken from Wikipedia:

“The Edict of Thessalonica (also known as Cunctos populos), issued on 27 February AD 380 by three reigning Roman Emperors…

Theodosius I, Gratian, and Valentinian II on 27 February 380.[1] The edict came after Theodosius had been baptized by the bishop Ascholius of Thessalonica upon suffering a severe illness in Thessalonica.[3]

EMPERORS GRATIAN, VALENTINIAN AND THEODOSIUS AUGUSTI. EDICT TO THE PEOPLE OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
It is our desire that all the various nations which are subject to our Clemency and Moderation, should continue to profess that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful tradition, and which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title of Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since, in our judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give to their conventicles the name of churches. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of the divine condemnation and in the second the punishment of our authority which in accordance with the will of Heaven we shall decide to inflict.
GIVEN IN THESSALONICA ON THE THIRD DAY FROM THE CALENDS OF MARCH, DURING THE FIFTH CONSULATE OF GRATIAN AUGUSTUS AND FIRST OF THEODOSIUS AUGUSTUS[4]

— Codex Theodosianus, xvi.1.2

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edict_of_Thessalonica, retrieved July 21, 2019).

 

The Edict of Thessalonica marked the official definition of who the Catholic Church considered a heretic – namely, one who did not believe in the Trinity.  This was the basis on which persecution was launched on a widespread basis.  It will be observed that as soon as the World Council of Churches adopted as its Basis in 1961, a concept that was in harmony with the definition of Catholic Christian, as defined in the Edict of Thessalonica, within a year, in 1962, the Second Vatican Council was convened, and out of it, the other churches of Christendom were declared to be no longer designated as heretics but rather as separated brethren.

 

Foundation of Seventh-day Adventist Faith

In 1904, Ellen White writes, “For the past 50 years every phase of heresy has been brought to bear upon us… Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayer, study, and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord.” (Special Testimonies, Series B #2, p. 59)

Notice that in 1904, the foundation of faith had been firmly established. “Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid. My husband, Elder Joseph Bates, Father Pierce, Elder Hiram Edson, and others who were keen, noble, and true, were among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844, searched for the truth as for hidden treasure… When they came to the point in their study where they said, ‘We can do nothing more,’ the Spirit of the Lord would come upon me, I would be taken off in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as to how we were to labor and teach effectively. Thus light was given that helped us to understand the scriptures in regard to Christ, His mission, and His priesthood. A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God, was made plain to me, and I gave to others the instruction that the Lord had given me.” (1SM 206.4)

 

At that time the Seventh-day Adventist Church officially had a non-Trinitarian statement of Fundamental Principles as was repeatedly published in the Annual Yearbook of the church.  The first Fundamental Principle as was published in the 1889 Yearbook was: “That there is one God, a personal, spiritual being, the creator of all things, omnipotent, omniscient, and eternal; infinite in wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, truth and mercy; unchangeable, and everywhere present by His representative, the Holy Spirit.  Ps. 139:7”. They did not elaborate further on the identity of the Holy spirit.  The second Fundamental Principle identified Jesus Christ as the Son of God.  This was clearly a non-Trinitarian perspective.

 

The Bible gives further clarification regarding the Holy Spirit, called the Comforter.  The Comforter that is sent is a messenger or representative who ministers under Christ’s instructions – “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7); “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13).

 

Like the angels of God, the Comforter appeared as a flame of fire and enabled miracles to be done – “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them” (Acts 2:2, 3).; “And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.” (Heb. 1:7); “The angels of God are ever passing from earth to heaven, and from heaven to earth. The miracles of Christ for the afflicted and suffering were wrought by the power of God through the ministration of the angels. And it is through Christ, by the ministration of His heavenly messengers, that every blessing comes from God to us.” (White, Ellen G., The Desire of Ages, p. 143).

 

We need to know the difference between the spirit of God that fills us (God’s mind, character and power) and the Comforter who is an agent sent to minister to us.  This will serve as an antidote against the alpha of deadly heresies, which promotes the idea that God is personally inside of people and inside other entities – as opposed to being personally in heaven.  It will also preserve us against the omega of deadly heresies that destroys the identity of God by making God a unity of three rather than a sovereign being who presides over the universe and sent His only begotten Son into the world to save us.

 

The angel of Revelation 18 who brings the latter rain outpouring of God’s power does the same type of work that the Comforter came and did in the outpouring of the early rain of God’s power at Pentecost.  We are told by revelation to Ellen G. White that “Angels were sent to aid the mighty angel from heaven” in the outpouring of the latter rain (White, Ellen G., The Story of Redemption, p. 399). We may similarly understand that other angels worked in support of the mission that was carried out by the Comforter in the early rain outpouring.  We are not expected to worship the angel of Revelation 18; neither are we expected to worship the Comforter.  There is no basis in scripture for anyone to place the Comforter or the angel of Revelation 18 as co-equals with the Most High, who sent His only begotten Son into the world.  The Bible says there is: “One God and Father of all, who is above all” (Eph. 4:6).  This is the person that the Bible refers to as “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:3).  Further, we worship Jesus, the Son of God because God, the Father, commands us to worship His Son (John 5:23; Heb. 1:6) – and no one else.

 

The issue is not whether or not there is a third person and eventually even a fourth, (the angel of Revelation 18).  The issue is the status of the third being, and also the fourth.  There is one Supreme Being, the Father, who is above all, who has given His Only begotten Son the authority to exercise all His power and has commanded us to honour His Son as we honour Him (John 5:23; 1 Cor. 15:24-28). This authority, He has given to none other.”

 

The Seventh-day Adventist Church was not fully accepted by the other churches while it stuck to the Biblical definition of God, as was held by its pioneers.  Up until 1980, the baptismal vow spoke of God as follows: “I believe in God the Father, in his Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit”.  This was changed to say: “Do you believe there is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three coeternal Persons?” Was something wrong with the first formulation? Certainly not, from a Biblical standpoint.  It was generic and did not even deny the Catholic formulation, even though it did not specifically declare it.  But the second formulation goes beyond what the Bible says and includes some element of speculation as there is nowhere in the Bible that defines God as three in one.  But most specifically, it accords with the Catholic definition as declared in the Edict of Thessalonica and as embraced by the World Council of Churches.

 

Will we hold to the truth without wavering or will we do otherwise in order to be accepted by the world confederation that will ultimately turn against God’s faithful people?  The choice is ours.  But all is not lost.  In 2005, the Seventh-day Adventist Church adopted an alternative form of the Baptismal vow that has only three statements.  This allows the pastor preparing the candidate for baptism to avoid binding the candidate to an unscriptural vow.  We must hold fast to the truth especially at this time, as this will be the measure of our loyalty to God.  This wholehearted commitment to God, above institutional commitment, is the essence of the new covenant experience (see article “Religious Liberty and the New Covenant” at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/2018/03/18/religious-liberty-new-covenant/.

 

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

The Law of God and the Law of Moses

There has been much confusion regarding references to the law in the Bible, especially in Paul’s writings.  One of the reasons for the confusion is that, oftentimes, no distinction is recognized between references to the Law of God and the Law of Moses.

In seeking to better understand especially Paul’s writings, the following points should be noted:

The Law of God

Firstly, the Law of God is specifically the Ten Commandments.  These are sometimes referred to, simply, as the law or as the commandments, and embody moral principles –

“he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet” (Rom. 13:8, 9); “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.” (Luke 18:20); “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” (James 2:10-12).

The Law of Moses

Secondly, the Law of Moses is specifically the traditions of the Jews.  These included penalties for breaking the Law of God, rules regarding ceremonies and observances, health laws and civil laws –

“But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the Lord commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” (2 Kings 14:6); “And it came to pass a long time after that the Lord had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age. And Joshua called for all Israel, and for their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers, and said unto them, I am old and stricken in age: And ye have seen all that the Lord your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the Lord your God is he that hath fought for you. . . Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left” (Joshua 23:1-6).

Issue in the early church

Thirdly, there was an issue in the early church as to whether or not Christians should be required to observe the Law of Moses –

“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” (Acts 15:5); “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.” (Acts 15:1, 2).

Paul’s teaching

Fourthly, Paul’s teaching was that the Law of Moses was not required for Christian believers but adherence to the Law of God is required –

“Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.” (1 Cor. 7:19); “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:” (Rom. 7:22); “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God” (Rom. 7:25); “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:27); “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.” (Rom. 2:21-25).

Relating to Paul’s writings

How then should we relate to Paul’s writings regarding the law?  Some people think that Paul’s writings are confusing because in some instances, it appears that he supports keeping the law, for example, he said: “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Rom. 3:31); but in another instance he seems to be saying that the law is done away, for example, he said: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” (Gal.3:24, 25).  But Paul was not confused.  The key to understanding his writings regarding the law, is to appreciate the issue that had arisen in the church that he sought to address and then establish whether he was referring to the Law of God or the Law of Moses.  The Law of Moses was for the Jews, but the Law of God is for all humanity and stands forever.

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

Bahamians were not sinners above others

As we mourn the loss of life in the Bahamas, one cannot avoid the usual question, “Where was God?”  Some have asserted that it was God’s judgement on the Bahamians and that they were warned.  Insurance companies and others classify such disasters as “Acts of God”.  But Jesus’s response to a report that was made to Him about a disaster should be instructive.  Jesus asked, “think ye that they were sinners above all . . .?”.  He continues, “I tell you. Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:4, 5).

While expressing sympathy for our Bahamian neighbours, I take the opportunity to make four points:

Presence of sin

Firstly, disasters of this kind are caused by the presence of sin in the world; not by acts of God – “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (Rom. 8:22).  Since sin entered the world, there has been death and destruction on the whole creation, affecting both good and bad.

Secondly, the Bahamians and others who suffer in disasters of this kind are no more sinners than all others – “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23).

God hears

Thirdly, when we repent and cry unto God for help, He hears and answers – “Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people.” (Joel 2:17, 18).

Fourthly, it is prophesied in the Bible that disasters and pestilence will get worse till Jesus Christ returns – “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. . . And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:7-9, 14).  Even scientists are predicting that disasters will get worse, as evidenced by climate change phenomena.

What then should we do?  We should seek God as a refuge, in addition to whatever practical measures we can take to mitigate disaster.  Love our neighbours and do not be judgemental nor seek to impose our beliefs on them but rather persuade them to seek God as a refuge because we are all in this together.

 

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

Keeping Your Straying Spouse at Home

Many of the ills of society are linked to a breakdown in the family structure.  Crime, social maladjustment, lack of self-confidence, giving in to peer pressure and children emulating the wrong icons are some of the results.  Single parents who struggle against the odds and raise children who become good and successful citizens are to be commended.  But having the help and support of a loving spouse is the ideal.

One of the reasons for the breakdown in the family is infidelity or lack of faithfulness on the part of spouses.  The Bible warns us to avoid fornication and commands us to not commit adultery.  This area of lack of faithfulness is well known and is popularly condemned by church and secular society alike.

The ills that can potentially result from fornication and adultery are well known.  Among these are: children being disowned or not being supported by fathers who are not married to the children’s mother; jealous rages and conflicts among parties in love triangles; among others, each with their attendant negative consequences.

Another area of unfaithfulness, however, that is almost invariably overlooked is that spoken of by the apostle Paul – that of defrauding one’s spouse or withholding from them their just due: “Defraud ye not one another” (1 Cor. 7:5).  Read the entire chapter, 1 Cor. 7:1-40.  There are two sides to the matter of fornication.  The Bible speaks of both.  Popular practice, both in the church and in the world belabours one and ignores the other.

Fornication should be avoided, and faithfulness should be maintained – faithfulness in rendering to your spouse their just due, whether financial and material support or emotional and physical support of intimacy.  By giving your spouse physical support of intimacy, you help to protect them from fornication and the Devil’s power of temptation (1 Cor. 7:5). Herein lies an area for repentance and reformation, which, if heeded, can make a major difference for good to the church and the world.

The story of Ruth and Boaz is very instructive (Ruth 3).  Ruth needed rest.  It is not explicitly stated what Ruth did to Boaz that night when she laid down at the spot where Boaz was sleeping, uncovered his feet and asked him to spread his skirt over her, but he was so drawn to her that he acknowledged her kindness and determined to do for her all that she would require (Ruth 3:9-11).  When Ruth told Naomi, her mother-in-law, Naomi told her that the man would not rest until he made the necessary arrangements to finish the matter that very day (Ruth 3:18).

As we lament the unfortunate state of affairs in which many persons are lured away from their homes or seek rest elsewhere, the solution might be closer to us than we might imagine.  It might verily lie in addressing the matter of faithfulness or lack thereof in rendering to our spouse due benevolence or kindness.  Boaz was impressed with Ruth’s kindness to such an extent that he would give her all that she required.  Are we kind to our spouses?  Or do we leave a void with an open invitation for someone else to fill?  It is well-known that nature abhors a vacuum.  We can make a difference and help to keep our straying spouse at home.

 “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

When God withholds forgiveness

One of the most foundational bases for Christian faith is the fact that God forgives.  If there was no forgiveness, all hope would be lost because we are all sinners – “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

We have been given the assurance that God will forgive the vilest sinner and will cast his sins to the bottom of the sea and will remember them no more – “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19).  The parable of the prodigal son aptly illustrates God’s eagerness to forgive us even after we have messed up – “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20).  Jesus’s treatment of the woman caught in adultery challenged the accusers.  He told them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7), while He tells the woman, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11).

Turned away

But strangely enough, the Bible also speaks of instances where persons will be turned away by God.  An examination of a few such cases should help us to determine what might be the reasons and help to put us in a better position to avoid being turned away.

1. Jesus speaks of some who would have ardently professed to be His followers who will be turned away at the last day.  Why?  Because, they failed to do His Father’s will – “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7:21-23).  So, if we want to be accepted by Christ, we can’t be doing our own thing.  We must seek to do the will of God.

2. There are others who seek forgiveness from God, but they do not forgive their fellowmen.  They too will not be forgiven – For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14, 15).  This is further illustrated in the parable of the unforgiving servant who refused to forgive his fellow servant after his master had forgiven him.  His master withdrew his forgiveness and demanded that he pay all his debts.  Jesus said that this is how it will be for those who refuse to forgive others – “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matt. 18:35).  So, if we want God to forgive us, we must forgive others.

3. Then there are the selfish ones who live only for themselves and fail to help others in distress.  They will be numbered among the goats who will be told to depart from Christ when He separates the sheep from the goats – “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matt. 25:41-45). So, if we want to remain in favour with God, we must be kind to others.

Presumptuous sin

4. Those who sin presumptuously will not be forgiven either – “But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.” (Num. 15:30, 31).  But wait a minute.  Isn’t that only an Old Testament concept?  Not quite.  It is a New Testament concept too – “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.” (1 John 5:16)

What is the sin unto death that you should not pray for?  Notice, first, that it is not the sinner who is praying here.  This is speaking about praying on behalf of someone else.  Let us be clear, God always hears and answers the prayer of the repentant sinner.  But the presumptuous person does not even see the need to repent.  No amount of prayer on his behalf can save him if he does not repent “because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment”.  At the root of presumptuous sin is despising the word of the Lord.  So, if we want to be forgiven, we must repent and not despise the word of the Lord.

God’s word and rebellion

Presumption comes in various forms.  Like Cain, one may decide that, although God asks for a lamb, fruits should be just as good, and may decide to offer fruits instead of a lamb; the result being that we are rejected, as was Cain – “And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.” (Gen. 4:4, 5).  God may ask for the seventh and one decides that the first is just as good or even better.  God may say two and we decide that it should be three.  Let us beware, lest we find ourselves in rebellion against God!

Christ will be our advocate if we are willing to accept God’s word and keep His commandments – “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1 John 2:1-3); Jesus said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15).

Sin is ultimately a condition of the heart – rebellion against God.  That is how it started in heaven with Lucifer who became Satan (Isa. 14:12-15).  There is no cure for genuine rebellion.  That is Satan’s condition.  We might be deceived or, like Jesus’s disciples, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt. 26:41).  If that is the case for us, there is a remedy.  When we are made aware of our mistakes, if we are sorry, we have a mediator who will present our case and God will forgive us, because we are not genuinely seeking to rebel against Him or seeking to do our own thing.  Our repentance and willingness to obey Him serve as proof that we are not with Satan.

Salvation and the Son of God

The plan of salvation was made in the heavenly council between God, the Father, and Jesus Christ, the Son of God; – “the counsel of peace shall be between them both” (Zech. 6:13).  God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9).  He is our mediator and the only one through whom we have access to God – “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).  The Son of God came to earth to reveal to us how much God loves us and to represent us before God.  He receives from God, His Father, and gives to us.  He told us to ask the Father for whatever help we need.  We should ask in His name, and the Father will give it to us – “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” (John 16:23).  The Father will give us the Holy Spirit if we ask Him – not that we should ask the Holy Spirit to come to us or fill us, but rather that we ask the Father to give us the Holy Spirit – “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13). We should not run the risk of despising the word of God by deciding that our requests should be directed to the Holy Spirit rather than to God himself through Jesus Christ.

Let us, by God’s grace, accept God’s word and not add to it nor subtract from it, lest we are found to be liars – “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Prov. 30:6).  Being found a liar, we run the risk of hearing from His lips, the fateful words, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7:23).  If we seek peace and forgiveness, we should cooperate with Him and avoid following human devising.

Forgiveness

So, we have seen that God forgives.  But God’s forgiveness is not given without consideration of our attitude and behaviour.  Certain attitudes and behaviours on our part can result in us not being forgiven and ultimately result in us being turned away by God.  But hold a moment.  Is it not the case that the death of Christ has provided unconditional forgiveness for all humanity and all we need to do is simply accept that we are already forgiven?  Not quite.  Christ came in place of Adam and bore the penalty for the sin of Adam; whose sin had condemned all humanity – “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22).  Having borne the penalty for Adam’s sin, forgiveness has been unconditionally provided for all humanity for that sin – “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Rom. 5:8-10).

We are “now justified” by the blood of Christ that has been shed for us, even “while we were yet sinners”.  When “we were enemies, we were reconciled to God” from the condemnation caused by Adam’s sin. But we are not yet saved because, apart from Adam’s sin, we have sins of our own. Even though we are not condemned for Adam’s sin, we could not be saved if we choose to remain enemies, committing sins of our own. We “shall be saved from wrath through him”.  How? By repenting of our own sins and accepting God’s power to stop committing them – “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).

No one will ever be called upon to bear any penalty for Adam’s sin; we only suffer consequences of the degradation around us and in us caused by it.  But in order to be forgiven for our own sins, we must repent of them.  Nobody can do that for us. And we cannot get forgiveness in advance, before committing a sin. If we sin and are sorry, we repent, and we are granted forgiveness.  Let us, by God’s grace, repent of our sins and ask God, through His Son Jesus Christ, for the Holy Spirit, so that we may both will and do His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

Latter-rain angel sheds light on Holy Spirit mystery

The latter-rain angel lightens the entire earth with his glory – “And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.” (Rev. 18:1).  When one recognizes that this is a description of an event like what happened on the Day of Pentecost to Jesus’s disciples, except more extensive, it sheds light on the mystery concerning who or what the Holy Spirit is.  Let us see what we know about the latter rain and then see if it can help us clear away some of the confusion that exists concerning what happened at Pentecost.  But first, let us establish that Pentecost, the early or former rain, was only a moderate version of what is to come in the latter rain.

Jesus told His disciples that He was about to return to heaven, but He would come back – “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3).  He further told them that while He was away, He would not leave them comfortless.  He would ask His Father to send them another Comforter.

 

The Comforter and the former rain

Jesus said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.  I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18).  But His disciples did not understand what He meant and one of them asked: “Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” (John 14:22).  He then explained: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26).  It became clear to them that He was going to send someone else to minister to them on His behalf until He returns.

Jesus told His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until the promise He made concerning that which He would send them from the Father was fulfilled – “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49).  The promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, with Peter declaring to the multitude that the outpouring of God’s spirit on that occasion was also a fulfilment of a prophecy that was made by Joel – “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:16, 17).

Using the imagery of the early rains that germinated the seeds and gave the wheat crop a good start and the latter rains that came towards the end of the season to ripen the grains, Joel had made it clear that there would have been an early or former rain of the Holy Spirit outpouring that would be only moderate, and there would also be a latter rain that would cause the harvest floors to be full – “Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil.” (Joel 2:23, 24); “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.” (Joel 2:28, 29).

The time-line given by Joel for this outpouring of God’s spirit and some of the signs in the heavens that would be associated with it, points clearly to an end-time occurrence – “And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.” (Joel 2:30, 31).

The outpouring of God’s spirit at Pentecost was therefore only a partial fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy since there was no record of the sun turning into darkness nor the moon turning into blood, neither was it the great and terrible day of the Lord.  It was the “former rain” that was given only “moderately”, as Joel said.  Indeed, the initial outpouring was only on those who were gathered in the upper room, about a hundred and twenty persons (Acts 1:15), with a few others receiving it by the laying of hands on them by the disciples.  This moderate outpouring was brought about by the Comforter whom Christ sent from His Father.

 

Another angel and the latter rain

The latter rain is a massive outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the last days – “And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.” (Rev. 18:1).  The event happens at a time when it is said that Babylon had “become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit” (Rev. 18:2).  At that time the sins of Babylon, a system of false worship, would “have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” (Rev. 18:5).  It is in this context that “another angel” that has “great power” comes from heaven and lightens “the earth with his glory”.

To get a sense of the glory that can attend angels, we can consider that it is mentioned alongside the glory of God Himself and Christ at the second coming of Christ – “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26).  Three powers of heaven are here brought to view, God, Christ and the holy angels.

The final outpouring will be more comprehensive and will take place in the last days, accompanied by signs in the sun, the moon, the heavens and the earth.  According to Revelation 18, the earth will be “lightened with his glory” (Rev. 18:1).  This is the glory of “another angel” who comes to earth with “great power” (Rev. 18:1).

The fact that the latter rain will be brought to earth by an angel and will be more extensive than the outpouring of the former rain at Pentecost, sheds some light on the mystery of who the Comforter, the Holy Spirit who came at Pentecost, might be.

Only an agent or messenger can be sent.  The word in scripture for a Divine agent or messenger is “angel”, translated from the Hebrew “malak” in the Old Testament and the Greek “aggelos” in the New Testament.  The term “angel” does not even tell the status or nature of the agent or messenger, since even Christ is referred to as “angel” – the “angel of the Lord” (Ex. 3:2) and “archangel” – chief of angels (1 Thess. 4:16).  No other Agent or Messenger of God is identified in scripture as being divine or having a “God-nature” except Jesus Christ.

The agent or messenger that brought the outpouring of God’s spirit at Pentecost, called the Comforter or Spirit of Truth, and the Holy Ghost was not Christ Himself, but someone sent by Christ.  Similarly, the angel of Revelation 18 who will bring an even more extensive outpouring of God’s spirit in the last days is not Christ Himself or another God-being, but someone from heaven who will be sent to earth to empower the followers of Christ before Jesus Christ comes the second time.

It is important to know that the Comforter, like the Angel of Revelation 18, is an agent from heaven who is sent to empower Jesus’s disciples and not another God-being, as many people today are worshipping the Holy Spirit, whereas we have been warned against “worshipping of angels” (Col. 2:18).  The last-days message to the world is a call to worship the true God who made heaven and earth (Rev. 14:6, 7).  At such a time there is a call to come out of Babylon or false worship that is described as “the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit” (Rev. 18:2) – a clear reference to false worship that has a strong spirit emphasis.  We would do well to heed the words of the angel who admonished John the Revelator when John was about to worship the angel.  The angel said: “See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant . . . . . . worship God” (Rev. 22:9).

 

Deception and worship of other gods

Jesus warned that deception will be almost overpowering in the last days – “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matt. 24:24).  We should be aware that the underlying objective behind Satan’s deceptions is to cause people to worship him.  Lucifer was a glorious angel who rebelled against God and became Satan because he wanted to be like the Most High – “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (Isa. 14:12-15).

Being angels, though fallen, Satan and the other angels with him have not lost their power to work miracles.  These will be the tools for carrying out their deceptions in the last days.  But God had warned, from the days of ancient Israel that we should not follow those who would lead us to worship other gods even though they might do signs and wonders successfully – “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deut. 13:1-3).

 

Call to worship the true God

The first and great commandment is to love God with all our hearts (Matt. 22:37, 38).  The sign that we love God is our willingness to obey Him – “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15).  Today, many people are earnestly seeking for power to work miracles and are calling on the Holy Spirit, praying to and worshipping the Spirit.  But Jesus and the holy angels tell us to worship God.  Apart from God Himself, we are commanded to worship Christ, the Son of God, and no one else –

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” (John 5:22, 23); – honouring the Son as we honour the Father would include worship.

“And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.” (Heb. 1:6) – angels are commanded to worship Christ and so should we.

“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” (Rev. 21:22) – a temple is a place of worship; God and Christ are the temple – no one else.

We should ask ourselves: “If we worship and call upon someone else apart from God and Christ, and we get miraculous responses, who is it that is responding?  Is it God, Christ and the angels of God on the one hand or is it someone else such as Satan and fallen angels on the other hand?”  Jesus told us how to pray.  He told us to say: “Our Father which art in heaven” (Matt. 6:9).  He further told His disciples to pray to the Father in His name – “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23, 24).

Let us beware of the modern allurement of calling upon the Spirit.  This will be a feature of Babylon, false worship, in the last days.  We are called upon to worship God and Christ; no one else.  This is what the angels do in heaven and that is what we should do – “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” (Rev. 5:13).

 

Baptismal Vow

Someone queries, “Jesus told us to baptize people in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; doesn’t that clearly indicate that Father, Son and Holy Ghost are co-equal and that all three should be worshipped as God?”  The answer is no.  We should do as Jesus said and not go beyond His instructions.  Jesus commanded: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matt. 28:19, 20).  We should therefore baptize people in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  This does not make Father, Son and Holy Spirit co-equals or make them jointly the one God of Scripture.

This command is very similar to Paul’s charge to Timothy.  He said: “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things” (1 Tim. 5:21).  As with Jesus’s statement that He will come in His own glory, the Father’s glory and the glory of the angels, Paul has identified the three powers of heaven: God, Christ and the angels.  This gives no warrant to worship the angels or to see them as co-equals with God.  Let us, by God’s grace, do what God says and not add to nor diminish from His word.

 “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

 

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

What does it mean to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit?

One of the most troubling issues that has perplexed professing Christians is the question of whether one could blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and not know it. The reason for this concern is the fact that Jesus warned against it, stating emphatically that there is no forgiveness for that egregious act.  Jesus said:

“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.  And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” –  Matt. 12:31, 32.

Inevitably, one wonders who this mighty Holy Ghost might be, that you can speak against Christ himself, the “Son of man”, and be forgiven, but if you blaspheme against the Holy Ghost you cannot get forgiveness.  Is this Holy Ghost greater than Jesus Christ himself?  Or is it that we do not understand what blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is, in that sense?  It appears that the latter might be the case.  Let us examine what blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is.

First, let us consider two similar situations in which people were warned that if they should fall in breach, no excuse would be accepted.  This might shed some light as to whether greatness of the person offended is the issue.

Angel in the Wilderness

In the first case, God is speaking to Moses and tells him that He would send His Angel to lead them through the wilderness.  Here is the instruction:

“Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.  Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.  But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.” – Ex. 23:20-23.

So, God is sending His Angel to guide them.  The Angel will be speaking to them on God’s behalf.  God says, “if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak”.  The question is: when they hear this Angel’s voice, who is speaking?  It is God that is speaking.  But, is God speaking in person.  No!  He is speaking through this Angel that He has sent.  When you disobey the Angel, who are you disobeying? God!  But, is the Angel God himself? No!  The Angel is someone that God has sent.  Now, if you refuse to be guided by the one that God has sent to guide you, then how will you be guided?  You’ll be left without a guide.  And you’ll fall into the ditch.  So, the issue is not about the greatness or status of that person who is sent to guide you.  It is about the role that the person is appointed to serve for you, on God’s behalf.

An Angel

Before looking at the second case, a word should be said about the reference to “an Angel”.  The word translated “Angel” is the Hebrew word “malak”, which means messenger or agent.  The term Angel does not tell you the status of the messenger or agent.  Indeed, there are different categories of agents and messengers.  In fact, one such agent, identified himself as God, when speaking to Moses from the burning bush.  Here it is:

“And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.” – Ex. 3:2-4.

Notice, it was “the angel of the Lord” that appeared unto Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of the bush, but it was God who “called unto him out of the midst of the bush”.  This “angel of the Lord” further said, “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Ex. 3:6).  It is believed that this “angel of the Lord” who could identify Himself as “God” could be none other than Jesus Christ himself.  So, the term “angel” by itself does not tell you the status of the person, except to indicate that this person is an agent or messenger.  This is further demonstrated by the fact that an “angel” who appeared to John the Revelator, told John not to worship him, whereas, Jesus Christ, as the “angel of the Lord” is worshipped as God.  The report of John’s encounter is as follows:

“And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.” – Rev. 22:8, 9.

This “angel” was obviously not Jesus Christ.  So, the point is that the term “angel” simply means agent or messenger and does not tell you the status of the person.  This is an important point to note, as we speak about the “Holy Ghost”, the “Comforter” that Jesus promised that He would send after He would have returned to heaven.  People just assume that this “Comforter” or “Holy Ghost” must be a being of worshipful status, even though the Bible does not say so.  They further assume this, because Jesus said that if you were to blaspheme against the Holy Ghost you will not be forgiven.  Therefore, to their minds, this must mean that the Holy Ghost must be God, not realizing that by viewing it in that way, they are making this Holy Ghost to be greater than Jesus and somehow suggesting that it is okay to speak against Jesus but not against this greater being – a position which is clearly untenable.

The Priest and the Judge

So, to the second case, that was mentioned earlier.  Moses was instructed that anyone who refused to hear the Priest or the Judge should be killed.  No excuses!  Here it is:

“And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel.  And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.” – Deut. 17:12, 13.

Was it that the Priest or the Judge was so great, in and of themselves, that one could not be forgiven for disobeying them, while later, you could be forgiven if you spoke against Jesus Christ, the Son of man?  Not really!  It had to do with the role that they were appointed to fulfil.  It was a way of managing the nation of Israel to ensure that the authority of the Priests and Judges was not flagrantly disregarded.

To Blaspheme against the Holy Ghost

So, back to our main question: what does it mean to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit?  It becomes evident if we look at the role that the Holy Ghost was appointed to fulfil.  Jesus said:

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” – John 16:13-15.

Jesus was going back to heaven.  He would have access to all that the Father has.  He would not be here in person, but He would send the Comforter as His representative.  The Comforter would receive from Him and give to us so that we would be guided and comforted until He should return at His second coming.  Now, if we were to reject the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of truth, how would we be guided?  It goes without saying, that we are destined to destruction if we should do that.  So, the choice is ours.  We can choose to stop our ears and refuse to be guided by the truth and be damned or we can genuinely seek guidance from God through His word and through His appointed agents and we will be guided into all truth.  In short, to blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth, is to persistently and finally reject the truth.

I pray that none of us will fall into the category of being a wilful rejector of truth, because this is the one thing that can truly exclude us from the kingdom of God.  Jesus said: “The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” – Luke 8:11, 12. We are told: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” – Acts 16:31.  The Children of Israel entered not into the promised land because of unbelief; and we have been warned not to make their mistake: “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” – Heb. 4:11. Belief in the Lord is not a one-off experience that happens at one moment and you are saved forever.  Belief in the Lord means that you take Him at His word and follow Him consistently.  May the Lord help us to this end!

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

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